Monday, November 29, 2010
And now I am able to done of my most favorite things to do during the Christmas season. I love love love to sit in front of the tree lights in a dimly lit room. A few candles, maybe a fire (although not tonight, as it's actually not too cold out right now), and a lit up Christmas tree. I can think of no more peaceful setting than that. I love it. Love it! Always have. I love the way the light reflects off of things to create colorful sparkles or cast long shadows. It's just like a taking a big deep breath and letting it all out. Aaah. Perfect.
As usual, most of my decorations are centered around our living room. Seems to be the obvious place to decorate, since the tree is there. So right now my living room is full of little details that I love. I love a candle dish full of red & green miniature ornaments. Chunky candles on chunky candle holders. Sparkly wooden churches. Colorful candlesticks. And glittery trees and globes (to reflect the tree lights just so). See my Christmas tree that Lucas calls my Dumbledore hat... I like it. He does not. But he can live with it for a few weeks. And he can put it on his head if he feels like it needs to be a hat... as long as he puts it back on the mantle when he's done pretending. (And my colorful Pier 1 candlestick holders... and our Charlie Brown Christmas tree. And my favorite clock... I think of it as my mustard clock... for obvious reason I guess... I just like it. It's always the little things that make me happy.)
So what else was there to do tonight other than to sit in the living room with all the lights out, the candles lit, and the tree turned on. In a clean room. In a quiet house. Perfect.
It was funny, this morning Sebastian looked at the tree and said, "Mom I just noticed that we only decorated at the bottom. The top hardly has any ornaments." I just had to smile.
Journaling: "I've always been a perfectionist when it comes to the tree, so it's always been a bit hard for me to just let the kids have at it with the ornaments. But this year I realized it doesn't matter how the tree looks. It's the memories that matter, so I let the kids put the ornaments on. Wherever they wanted."
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- Bubble baths
- Good books
- Sweet tea
- Peanut butter
- Bootie slippers
- Cell phone calendars
- Contact lenses
- Digital photos
- Quiet time
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These pictures make me a little bit sad. When I look at them, I see a boy who is growing up so quickly; who seemed to only sort of enjoy himself at trick-or-treat; who seemed to be torn between having fun and growing up. He did trick-or-treat. And I think he still will next year. But I'm not sure how many more years we have before he is 'too old.' *sigh* Enough with this growing up business. It's hard on a Momma.
Journaling: "This year there was never any question. From the very beginning you knew you wanted to be a ninja. Maybe it was the all-black costume. Or maybe the mask. Maybe it was just the idea of being a quiet, skilled, silent warrior. You are growing up quickly. Before we know it, you will be 'too old' for trick-or-treating. But for now, for this year, you had fun."
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Sunday, November 28, 2010
I'm hoping to get the lights up so that the kids can start decorating with ornaments. I'm thinking I'm going to keep Christmas decorations to a minimum this year. Sometimes less is more. At least that's what I'm telling myself for now.
Off to string lights (and get my arms and hands all scratched up from our tree). I'll be back later to post Thanksgiving pictures and stories!
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
A crazy person!
Really. I am just not myself lately. I am snippy and snappy and easily frustrated! Aaaagh! I can't stand it!
It seems like if I stop and take a few minutes, I can regain some perspective, and maybe get some go-forward strategies and ideas of little things I could do differently - or just do - to make life run more smoothly. But if I don't stop, I feel like I'm crazed. *sigh*
Example: Today we are packing (which is one of the quickest ways to stress me out, even in the best of circumstances). The kids are all home from school today for break. I washed all of their clothes yesterday, but it's their job to fold them and put them away. So I gave them the baskets to start sorting. They, however, acted like they had NO idea what I was talking about.
Then I asked Meagan to pull the blankets off of her bed. "IT'S TOO HARD!!" was the response I received. I hate that response. I hate to hear "I can't." or "It's too hard." Not my favorite phrases. Unfortunately, I've been hearing them a lot lately. Seems SHE likes them, even if I don't.
I just stopped. Right in the middle of the floor. In the middle of the dirty laundry pile (the adult clothes... which did NOT get washed yesterday). And I closed my eyes. I was breathing. And praying. And thinking. Poor Sebastian, who was standing near me when I dropped to the floor, just stood there frozen, not quite sure WHAT he should do. Finally I heard him sort of tip toe away. I don't blame him. I'm sure from his perspective I looked like a crazy person on all accounts.
Okay, back up on my feet. Get the laundry sorted. Find a way to motivate Meagan without an arguement. Get the clothes packed (or washed, and then packed). Get the beds made (because once Meagan has the blankets off of her bed, neither of her bunks will have sheets on them... she's gonna need a place to sleep when we get home).
I did find a way to get it done. I sorted Lucas' and my clothes into two piles. Threw one in the wash. I emptied and reloaded the dishwasher. Then I called Meagan down to the now-tidy kitchen to have a chat - yes, a NICE one... no yelling or scolding or anything - after which she promptly went up to her room to start on the stuffed animals and blankets (and floor cleaning and toy packing apparently, as she keeps bringing things to me that she wants to take on our trip). And I feel a bit less monster-ish.
Hopefully I can keep that crazy monster at bay and enjoy our holiday. I do not want to be a maniac.
(P.S. Just as I was finishing typing this, Meagan busted out a major melt-down... stomping and crying / screaming "I don't want to do my room! It's too hard!" Clearly, she has a pet monster today too. *blah* All I can think of right now is the Calgon commercials that were on tv when I was little.... "Calgon, take me away!"... I guess all I can do is say, "I CAN do this... It's NOT too hard!" And move on.)
Sunday, November 21, 2010
Friday, November 19, 2010
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
- talking to my friend Karen on the phone. I miss her.
- getting nice messages from friends on facebook. I miss them too.
- Christmas shopping for my kiddos.
- Finding penguins at the store for Isaac's animal report and habitat box he has to do. Super excited that I found exactly what he needs.
- Quiet time for reading.
- Sweet tea.
- A sweet kitty curled up in my lap.
- Watching Lilly fall through the top of a box that Meagan was hiding in... they both freaked out on that one... pretty funny!
- Talking to my mom (although not for as long as we might have liked).
- Talking to Nancy. We always have great talks. I miss her too. (there's a trend running here, I think)
- Ideas. I always get random ideas, but don't always follow through on them. Tonight I found some cute little gift box type things at Meijer and got some to see if I can make my own. Who knows if I'll actually do it, but I like the idea.
- Exciting thoughts about the future.
- It's almost Christmas time.
- Thanksgiving is next week... and we get to be with family.
- A new purse (I had 2 before... one had gotten gum or candy or something smooshed on the inside of it and the sides of the purse were stuck together... it is now in the trash. The second was almost as gross, as it has a huge unidentifiable blotchy stain all along the side of it... it is now in the wash.)
- Target. *love*
- Warm(ish) weather so the kids could play on the playground after school.
- Reading How to Train Your Dragon - the second book.
- Cheating on dinner... grilled cheese & soup, baby!
- And now I'm thinking warm bubble bath and an early bedtime... I LIKE THAT FOR SURE.
Here's a layout I did with her most recent kit. Mmmm... I miss Mr. Freeze right now. Now we need Mr. Hot Chocolate I guess.
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
There are 3 separate pieces to build.
1. the background itself.
2. the center
3. the banner or header
* So you will want to create 3 new files in photoshop (or elements, or whatever you are using) ... one file for each of the 3 pieces listed above. Dimensions are as follows:
1. background: I use 2000 pxl wide x 1040 pxl high
2. center: 995 pxl wide x 1040 pxl high
3. banner: I use 900 pxl wide by 350 pxl tall. You can make this bigger or smaller
* Now, select WHITE (farthest top left on your color selection view) and fill the Center (995 x 1040 file).
* Drag white center onto the background file (2000 x 1040 file). It should center automatically. This will serve as the place marker for the default center on your blog. Keep in mind that whatever you put in this white space will NOT show up on your blog as part of the background. You can overlap a VERY LITTLE along the edges if you want an element (i.e. button, word art, etc) to overlap a bit. If you go too far in, though, it WILL BE CUT OFF.
Now your background file should look something like this:
* Now you can use papers, elements, etc. to fill in and build the sides (shown in blue above).
* Add shadows. I've found through trial & error that you want to keep shadows much smaller than you normally would. They show up much bigger on the blogger than they do in photoshop. ???
* Save a full copy (with layers, psd file) so that you can come back in and edit it if you need to.
* Flatten and save a flat copy (no layers, jpg)
That takes care of your background. Separate from that you will want to create a banner or header for your blog. You'll work with your 900 x 350 pxl file that you created earlier. A few notes on this:
- You can use as much or as little of the 900 x 350 space as you want. Obviously, the less space you use, the smaller your banner will appear on your blog & v/v.
- I recommend NOT adding a background unless you really want to. The reason for this is that it will just look like a big rectangle. It will not blend into your background, and depending on the layout template you have selected on Blogger, the header may not even be fully centered. This is totally a matter of personal preference, though. Your blog... do it your way!
- Again with the shadows... keep them smaller than you normally would.
- Once you're done, save it as a png file.
* Once you are finished with the background and header, upload them to a photo hosting site, such as photobucket. I recommend photobucket actually, as the formatting seems to cooperate nicely with blogger.
Now for the trickier part...
* Log into your blog.
* On your Dashboard, click on Design.
* At the top left of the screen, click on Edit HTML.
* In the body of the text, search for the section that deals with your background. You will want to copy the DIRECT link of your background image in photobucket. Then paste it into your HTML so that it looks like this:
background-attachment: fixed; margin:0;
font:x-small Georgia Serif;
*Make sure your HTML is telling your background to be centered, non-repeating, fixed, zero margin. It should look a lot like the HTML code above when you are finished (obviously with your own choice of text, color, etc).
(Still with me??)
NOW, Do the same for the header...
* In the HTML code, search for the section that deals with your header. It will look something like this:
img alt='NAME OF YOUR BLOG' border='0' src='http://i161.photobucket.com/albums/blahblahblah/filename.png'/
* where you see src=' you will want to paste the direct link from photobucket for your header file. Make sure there is a ' right after the = and then another after the .png. Otherwise, your header will not show up.
*Before you save the changes to your design template, MAKE SURE YOU PREVIEW. If it's not working right, then your best bet is to discard changes and start over, playing close attention that you don't change anything in the HTML except for the image link.
* And don't get discouraged. I played with this for HOURS before I figured it out the first time. (lol) It's a bit tricky to get the hang of at first, but once you get it once, future changes are just a matter of updating the image links.
* All other preference changes - i.e. color, text, size, layout, etc - can be made from the same Design screen where you were before clicking 'edit HTML'. From the Design view, if you click on Template Designer, then Advanced, you can change your colors and such from there.
Monday, November 15, 2010
There is a sense of something looming in the shadows when I know I'm behind. When I know I'm not keeping up with the things that are flowing in so quickly. But there is a also sense of satisfaction and a sort of peace that comes from feeling like I have cleared out the clutter that has found its way in.... and things are flowing as they should.
I have found... well, I've known for some time, but have recently rediscovered... that my entire day flows best when I MAKE time to read, pray, and/or study. If I allow my to-do list to dictate whether or not I spend time with God, I may NEVER get around to it. But, on days like today, when I have intentionally chosen to give Him my time and attention, the mass quantities of incoming information, moods, attitudes, and whatever else, somehow seem much more manageable. And that is where true peace finds its rightful place in our home and in our lives. I like that.
Sunday, November 14, 2010
I have accomplished quite a bit of Christmas shopping for the kids. I have NOT accomplished completing the year-in-review albums I usually do for Christmas gifts. *sigh* I never got last year's done either... they are harder than you think!!
We have officially finished ALL of the painting in our house. Lucas busted out the extension ladder today, and we finished off the trim around the high ceilings above the stairs. No more painting! We might actually be able to just sit and enjoy our house for a bit. With no ugly colors in it.
Meagan has had a crazy cough going on for the past 3 or 4 weeks now. It just doesn't seem to want to go away. But no fever or anything else, so we just have to let it run its course. Blah.
Now Lucas is also feeling quite under the weather too. Big bummer.
Oh, and I forgot to tell you... Meagan has finally gotten her own DS! Our deal was that she had to get out of pull-ups and stay dry at night. And she has done it! No more pull-up purchases for me! Woot! She has had a hand-full of accidents, but for the most part has been dry dry dry! I love it! She is so proud of herself for it too!
I'm off to get ready for bed and just chill for the rest of the evening. I'm pretty tired too and have no interest in sharing in the sickies that have been flying around here.
Friday, November 12, 2010
(Click here to view full credits.)
(Click here to view full credits).
Meagan came back from her friend's house with a hand full of pictures she had drawn. I LOVE them... she is always drawing something or crafting something, and I love it when I can tell she is extra excited about something she has done... like it's an extra special one. Here are two extra special's...
The first one is a self-portrait and some practice with her name... see her name is scattered about so that it's like an I Spy page... at first I didn't quite get that, and I was wondering why she had written 'men' down the side. *lol* But I get it now.
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
I got a bit of Christmas shopping done yesterday while the kids were in school. That was fun. Maybe a little retail therapy for my funk. I got the big items purchased for the kids, and a few other things as well. Um... I have lots of laundry to take care of. And clothes to purge from closets. And Halloween decorations (now laying in the middle of the floor in our front room) to put away. Lots of ordinary, everyday stuff to take care of.
I did sit down last night and scrap a little. Lucas and Meagan watching a Notre Dame game together (back in September some time).
Journaling: 'She SHOULD have been going to bed. But she came down in her sweet little nightgown with her sweet little face and asked her Daddy if she could sit with him and watch the game. Well, what daddy can say NO to that? She hung in there for a while, but in the end, Daddy got a sleepy, snuggly football buddy.'
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Friday, November 5, 2010
So, this year, we took the kids to Toys R Us and let them go to town with a registry gun. We've gone back through and tried to sort-of fine tune their lists... although Meagan is convinced she needs one of everything, so hers is a bit of a wreck.
Here are the three separate registries.
You can buy online from the registry or in the store from the registry. You also can do a search for the things online at amazon.com if you need to see what they are (not all of the images are shown on the registry). IF you buy something off-registry that is actually ON the registry (I.e. you find it at wal-mart cheaper, or whatever), PLEASE let me know ASAP so that I can go in and edit the registry. This will help us cut down on duplicate gifts... I hope.
Also, here's a summary of what they've told me going through all of this, and sizes and all that:
Wants anything Bakugan, Kung Zhu, Lego Atlantis, and Lego Creator sets
- Pictionary Man
- Animal Crossing for Wii
- DS Pokemon game and Kung Zhu Game
- Dino Rock House
Sizes: 8 pants with adjustable waist or 8 slims, 8/10 shirts and pj's
- Imaginarium Castle and fort
- Lego Kingdom and Lego Castle stuff
- Knights & Dragons (and the big foam dragon)
- Kung Zhu
- Military building set
- Lego Prince of Persia stuff
- DS or PS2 games
Sizes: same as Sebastian
- Kung Zhu and regular Zhu Zhu pets & accessories
- Anything Hello Kitty
- Calico Critters (the house, the pre-school, and the rabbit and elephant families & babies)
- "Girl" Legos, Lincoln Logs, Tinker toys and constructs sets (pink pink pink)
- DS Games - she got her own DS a few days ago!!
- Whimsy Pets
- Tea Sets - she has decided to start collecting tea sets.
Sizes: size 5 pants with adjustable waist, or 5 slims, size 5/6 shirts and pj's
So there you have it. Hopefully this will give you some specific ideas for gifts and make it easier for everyone. As long as we actually USE the registry, I think this might be a good solution to the Christmas craziness we usually have. We'll see.
(I'll work on getting a permanent link up on my blog so you can find their wish lists any time you need to.)
Several times a month I sit down and TRY to map out a menu for the week, but somehow I seem to lose track of it... whether I lose the paper I wrote it on or just forget about it or whatever. So it does me no good if I can't find it. SO. I decided to try something new, just to see how it works out. I may have to tweak the system a bit. But it's a start.
I used a few scrapbook supplies and whipped up a general menu for the month. Now, many of you who know me may be laughing at me right now, because you KNOW that I am HORRIBLE at sticking to plans like this. But I don't plan on using it as rigidly as it appears. I just generally wanted to fill up the days with a decent balance of meals. That way, if I get to a day when I think, "I don't know what to make for dinner," I can glance at the menu and have LOTS of options. I managed to fit 30 DIFFERENT meals on here. So we don't have to get bored eating the same things over and over.
So we'll see how it goes. So far, I have not made a single meal on the day it was 'scheduled'. You know me and schedules. But it's helping.
Layout #1 from this year's Halloween adventure. I saw the heart paper in the BYOC, and thought immediately of our little Queen of Hearts.
Journaling: "After a bit of persuasion, Meagan decided to dress up as the Red Queen for Halloween. She wanted hearts on her dress, white face makeup, red heart lips, and blue eyes. She fully embraced the character, even quoting favorite movie lines."
(Click here to view full credits).
Journaling: "Once upon a time, our basement was storage for countless paper scrapbook supplies - papers, stickers, letters, stamps, paint, scissors and adhesives, ribbon, brads, buttons and the like. I was a scrap addict, and paper was my obsession. Occasionally I would glimpse a digital layout in an online gallery and admire the blending or whatever, but I was a paper girl through & through. Then one day, along came a free online tutorial. I tried it and found that I actually quite enjoyed it. My reasons for testing the waters on digital were quite practical. I had not been seduced by the artistry or the technique. I simply wanted an easy way to duplicate layouts. I ended up discovering that, while both approaches to the craft were similar in many ways - story telling and memory capturing being at the forefront of both - there were also many differences. Hands-on supplies vs. digital clicks, dimension & texture vs. a flat printed sheet; a big giant mess & lots of required storage vs. a tiny laptop and hard drive. Where once my tools were scissors, glue dots and tweezers, now my tools are Photoshop Elements, a Wacom tablet, and a good print company. Where once I feared messing up or making mistakes, now I feel free to experiment & try new things. Truth is, once I found my own style, it felt like a big weight was lifted off of me. When I scrapped with paper, there was a pressure that went with it. With digital, I feel unobstructed and free.
There was once a time when I felt torn between paper and digital. I felt I was betraying the craft into which I had put so much of myself. Today, I know that I am a better scrapper because of my decision to make the change."
(Click here to view full credits).
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
Yes, I know the pictures are a few days later than SOME of you would have liked *lol*... but here you go.
I am finding that each year, the gap between raising boys and raising a girl seems to widen. Each of our kids is equally excited about costumes and candy. But the boys take a very simple approach... get dressed, get candy, the end. Meagan, however, has now reached the point of requiring a TRANSFORMATION from Meagan into her character.
I admit, Lucas and I MAY have played a wee little part in her major production this year. The costume she picked out was this long, red velvet 'princess' gown. Well, it looks like a Red Queen dress. So a few times we asked her if she wanted to be the Red Queen. "No, the Red Queen is too naughty and mean," was her answer. Until Saturday. Yes, Saturday - one day before Halloween. Saturday she decided the Red Queen would be a perfect idea for a costume.
"But I need to have hearts on my dress. And blue eyes. And a white face. And heart lips." All okay with me, so she set her heart (no pun intended) on being the Red Queen.
She even got pretty into it. She had the idea that she could be the Red Queen, and the boys could dress up as 'The Fat Boys' and she could walk around saying, "I love my fat boys." Nice. Lucas and I thought the idea was quite clever. Isaac, however, was having NO part of it. "I'll be the Mad Hatter, but not a fat boy," was his response. He's too funny.
So then she decided she would carry a pig around so she could say, "I need a pig here. I love a warm pig belly for my aching feet." Yes, she is a movie line buff.
So here is her transformation. First, normal Meagan, with her hair in a fancy bun. And hearts on her dress. Thank goodness for fabric glue.
Then the makeup.
Finally, we made it outside to take some pictures before taking off in pursuit of major loads of candy.